January 31, 2021
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
When you see two plus two on a math test, the correct answer is four. If you put down another number, and the teacher marks you wrong, then you have a good teacher. If you put down another number, and the teacher marks you correct, then you have a bad teacher. Math is based on facts, not opinions. If you mark down four as the answer to the question two plus two, then you have the fact correct in your mind. If you mark down another number, then you do not have the fact correct in your mind. And if you do put down the wrong answer, you cannot make an argument to prove yourself correct by saying something like, “Five just felt right today, four is bad luck, math doesn’t apply to me and my life, so I don’t care about the correct answer or I have a group of students who also want to put five down as the answer, so you have to accept it as right and if you don’t we will start destroying things in the classroom.” Objective facts are key in mathematics, and they are also important regarding those in authority.
When someone is an authority, they have power behind them because they use objective facts. The power of an authority comes from their connection to what is true. For example, news reporters who are credible will seek out authoritative sources when reporting on a story. If a news reporter wanted to do a story about something that happened in downtown Rockwall yesterday afternoon, then they would find someone who was in the Downtown Square of Rockwall yesterday afternoon, not ask someone who was in Dallas or Greenville. The eyewitness account is the reporters best hope for credible source and a story based on facts, rather than opinions.
God also understands the connection of the power of an authority to objective facts. Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke to people through prophets. The people trusted prophets to speak to them the very words of God. This made the prophets authorities to the people, and some of the prophets spoke the objective facts from God, while others abused their position of authority to spread lies. To restore hope in the people in a prophet who speaks the truth and to give a firm warning to those who spread lies, God gave this promise in Deuteronomy 18, 18 “I will raise up for them a prophet … He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.” God was clear that anyone who claimed to speak from God in order to push their own agenda deserved death. God was also clear that there would be one prophet, the Prophet, to whom all must listen or face judgement for not listening to Him.
When Jesus began preaching, it was clear that he was not like his contemporaries who were supposed to be teaching God’s Word to the people. As we pick up with Jesus in Mark 1, he is beginning his ministry in the region of Galilee to the north of Jerusalem in the city of Capernaum. Capernaum was much like Rockwall in that it was a city on a lake and was a gateway to many other cities. Capernaum served as a home base for Jesus as he carried out ministry throughout Galilee. As soon as he arrived there, he went to work and, on the Sabbath, went to teach in the synagogue, which would be similar to today when a pastor goes to teach and preach on a Sunday at a church or wherever the people are gathered. We are not told the specifics of Jesus’ message, but it would have fit under the theme he mentioned for his ministry in Galilee in Mark 1:15, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” When the people heard Jesus, 22 “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” It was clear by what he said and how he said it that Jesus was not like his contemporaries, the teachers of the law, and soon the people would see that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecy from God spoken by Moses in Deuteronomy that the Prophet had arrived.
Jesus’ teaching proved his authority to the people. Jesus was not like the teachers of the law because they simply repeated long lists of rules for the people to follow to please God. Their lists and rules were not from God, and they had lost sight of what God had spoken through the prophets and what the written Word of God promised. Jesus pointed the people back to the message of God’s Word. The people were struck to the heart by Jesus’ words because they were true. The people were lost in sin and afraid of death, being led astray with false promises that their human ancestry as an Israelite or keeping rules would bring them onto good terms with God. Jesus gave them hope in the message of God’s forgiveness for their sins, rather than their best efforts to get rid of their sins. The good news was that God would save the people, not leave them to try and save themselves.
Jesus’ teaching proved his authority to the people, then he further proved his authority with a demonstration of his power. Among the crowd at the synagogue was a man possessed by a demon. After Jesus finished teaching, the demon cried through the man, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” The demon was right about who Jesus was, but was wrong about why Jesus was there. Jesus did not want the demon to testify to who he was because it is evil, and it was not the time for the people to understand fully who Jesus was. 25 “‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.” Jesus did not debate with the demon and there was no drawn-out battle of wills as if between two equal forces, one good and one bad. Jesus spoke and the demon obeyed. There is only one power and authority over all things as we hear in Philippians 2, 10 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Even the demons must submit to God and obey him. And after all Jesus did at the synagogue on the Sabbath in Capernaum, 27 “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.’” No one could deny the facts, Jesus had power and authority like no one they had ever seen.
Just like the people at the synagogue listening to Jesus, who were amazed to hear about repentance, the good news and the kingdom of God, you are surrounded by lies. The devil, who is the father of lies as Jesus said in John 8, is the one behind the lies and eagerly spreads lies about who Jesus is, but not in the same way as he did at the synagogue with Jesus. The devil is crafty, creative and a student of people. The devil has learned how to make lies sound like truth and truth sound like lies. For example, the devil loves to hear phrases like, “I know who Jesus is, so I don’t need to go to church or read the Bible, I already know what it says.” Or, “I would like to read the Bible but it too big and I don’t know of anyone who could help me start to read or understand it.” Or, “I just got to busy with other things this week to read the Bible, go to Bible Study or go to church.” The devil knows that everything you hear and listen to is teaching you and affecting you, not just your mind, but also your soul. So, you need to hear and read the Word of God, or you will be led to believe in lies. And when you are lost in the lies, the devil has you and you will be lost to death and hell.
Your life is filled with people claiming to be the authority. And it can be as simply as a commercial making a claim that their potato chip is the best or a form of entertainment claiming time spent watching or listening to it will give you rest and joy. Or as complex as getting caught in a job that demands all your time with a paycheck you now need to support a lifestyle you really don’t need because it robs you of time with friends, family, sleep, healthy eating and time with God, etc. Whatever the authorities in your life are claiming, if it is a message that is undermining the authority, the power and truth of who Jesus is, then it is a message that has the power to destroy you. The truth is you are sinful, you are going to die and without forgiveness for your sins you will go to hell as punishment for your sins. Also, the devil is real and does not want you to believe he is. And, the devil’s purpose is to destroy you, and he does not want you to believe God has saved you from him, sin, death and hell. But, when the devil or demons, or when guilt, sin and fear of death try to harm you, the power to defeat them is Jesus.
Contrary to the demon’s claim, Jesus did not come to destroy you, but to save you. The opening verse of Mark’s gospel states, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” Mark is clear that Jesus is the promised Savior, God himself, the highest authority, and that his coming to the world is good news. The good news is that Jesus obeyed God’s will and only listened to the truth. He did that for you, so that all your moments of listening to the devil’s lies and all the rest of your sins would be put to death on the cross. Jesus let himself be put to death to save you from hell. It was his plan as he told the disciples multiple times like in Mark 8 speaking of himself, the Savior, 31 “he must be killed and after three days rise again.” And later in Mark 15, we hear these words from an eyewitness who was in Jerusalem the afternoon Jesus died on the cross, 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” When the centurion saw the sky grow dark from noon to 3:00pm, the earthquake, rocks split, the temple curtain torn in two, tombs of holy people who had died broken open and the dead raised to life, it was clear to him that this Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus’ words and actions proved his authority and power.
Jesus did all of this to save you. Without the Bible, the authoritative source for who God is we would be lost. God gave us his Word as the testimony, the eyewitness account to all he did to save us. God wants you to hear and read his Word to know who he is and what he has done for you. God also only wants you to listen to those who preach with authority. Do not listen to those who claim to preach the Word of God, but really, they just talk about worldly problems or methods to living a better life, of ways to be blessed by God through sincere dedication and hard work. Only believe in deliverance from God himself. With Jesus alone, there is the true lasting eternal peace from the power of God the Creator, Savior and the Giver of faith. Then, there is understanding and light in a dark world lost in chaos, fighting, worry, anxiety, pointless pursuits, death, and hell. In the book of Hebrews 3 we hear, 4 “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” Give the respect, praise and thanks to God alone for sending his Son, Jesus, to build his eternal kingdom; to build his kingdom with you and all those he has saved from this world.
A good teacher teaches what is true, and also tells you why it is important to know the truth. A good math teacher teaches that two plus two equals four. And that is important to know for all kinds of moments in life when mixing ingredients for baking, calculating taxes, making cuts when building furniture, etc. Jesus is a good teacher because he told us the truth that he is the Son of God and why it is important that he is our Savior from sin, death and the devil. Jesus revealed God’s love for you to make you his and bring you to eternal life with him in heaven. Jesus, the Holy One of God, is the authority sent with power to save you. Amen.